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Restoration Activities
Case: North Cape, RI
Map of Rhode Island state shellfish restoration locations.

Restoring Shellfish
The Shellfish Program, co-led by RIDEM and NOAA and developed to address the loss of an estimated 150 million surf clams and more than one-half million other bivalves, began in 2002 and will be completed in 2008. The Trustees approved projects targeting three species to address injuries; restoring bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) and eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and enhancing quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) populations in Rhode Island's South County coastal ponds and Narragansett Bay. The Program goals are to restore lost shellfish biomass (due to direct loss and foregone reproduction) and lost ecological services provided by the bivalves such as food sources for other biota, habitat structure, and water column filtering. More detailed information regarding the results of the shellfish program can be found in the North Cape Shellfish Restoration Program Annual Reports.

Bay Scallop
Scallop restoration began in 2002 with the release of approximately 600,000 1-inch sized scallops into Pt. Judith Pond. Follow-up diver surveys indicated high scallop mortality from abundant predators (starfish and crabs). In 2003, approximately 2.1 million scallop seed were released to Ninigret, Quonochontaug, Green Hill and Potter Ponds. Follow-up diver surveys again revealed high scallop mortality,
Mature scallop broodstock maintained in cages for predator protection.
with the highest survivorship in Ninigret Pond. In 2004 and 2005 a caged scallop spawner sanctuary was established in Ninigret Pond. This approach proved highly beneficial to scallop recruitment in the pond, resulting in an estimated scallop population just under 200,000 in 2006. The caged spawner sanctuary technique was applied in Quonochontaug Pond in 2006 and 2007. The sanctuary that was implemented in Quonochontaug Pond in 2006 increased the number of naturally occurring scallops in the pond from an estimated 3,500 in 2006 to over 11,000 in 2007. The addition of another 7,100 caged scallops in the pond in 2007 resulted in a relatively low, but consistent spat fall throughout the 2007 season. Scallop abundance and spat recruitment monitoring will be continued in Ninigret and Quonochontaug Pond in 2008. In 2008, the caged spawner sanctuary will be moved to Pt. Judith Pond, where approximately 20,000 scallops will be housed to provide a broodstock source for the pond.

Oyster
Oyster restoration methods comprise four main steps: 1) remote larval set 2) oyster nursery grow-out 3) oyster seeding 4) subsequent monitoring of released seed.
Newly settled oyster spat is reared in nurseries prior to seeding.
North Cape staff remotely set oyster larvae to settle on loose shell in tanks in early summer. The newly settled oysters are moved to oyster nurseries where they remain until they are ready to be seeded. Come fall, the oysters are seeded to select locations around Rhode Island. Approximately 500,000 oysters were released at six selected sites in 2003 and 2004. The 2005 oyster project was five sites, and approximately 2 million oysters were released at five of our existing restoration sites in 2006. To date, over 4.3 million oysters have been released to six sites in Rhode Island. North Cape trustees have agreed to release an additional 1 million oyster seed at five selected sites in 2008.

Quahog
Quahog are reared in floating upweller systems and seeded into two Rhode Island salt ponds.
Quahog enhancement started in 2002 with the purchase of small (1 mm) quahog from a commerical hatchery. The 1mm quahog seed were raised in floating upwellers in Pt. Judith Pond, RI. When the animals were large enough, they were seeded into the spawner sanctuaries in Ninigret and Quonochontaug Ponds. In 2005, we compared pond bottom grow-out of the second year quahogs to seed grown in an upweller. The results revealed that the upweller produced much higher survival and slightly better growth, but demanded substantially higher investment of staff time. To date, over 760,000 quahog have been seeded in Quonochontaug and Ninigret Ponds.

Volunteer Participation
The success of the North Cape Shellfish Restoration Project is due in large part to the tremendous amount of volunteer effort that has gone into the project. Therefore, the North Cape Trustees would like to thank the outstanding effort provided by all of the volunteers in helping complete these labor intensive projects. Over the last five years, more than 300 volunteers have contributed 1500+ hours making shell bags, recording data, captaining boats, and seeding shellfish to the salt ponds.
Volunteers for the North Cape Shellfish Project load bags of shells.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Restoration Documents
2005 Annual Report
2006 Annual Report
2007 Annual Report
2008 Annual Report

Information
For more information, please contact Bryan DeAngelis.



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